Where Were You When We Were Getting High?
Where Were You When We Were Getting High?

Where Were You When We Were Getting High?

I had the best weekend – it was seriously the battery recharge I needed.

A bit of background – when I first started dating the architect, the first activities we really did together were camping & hiking stuff – and it was our first hike together that really made me realize that I needed to lose weight.

Anyways – so, we hiked. And camped. And it was fun! And then we moved to Portland. And bought a house. And I became a runner. So, instead of hiking every weekend & camping every 2-3 weeks in the summer, we started gardening (which, of course, I love), and household projects, running many miles, and drinking with our neighbors, etc. SO – this year, I told the architect that we were camping at least THREE times – once a month in June, July & August.

June came around – the first weekend we had picked out got pushed back due to party attendance (for once, not me). The second weekend it was storming EVERYWHERE we thought about going. 50 mph winds, hail, etc. Nice to watch – unless you’re in a tent.

So – July….and we had a weekend! But then, we had an out-of-town guest instead.

Finally – it was August – and nothing – not an 18 mile run, not a pulled groin muscle, nothing – was keeping me at home.

We had selected our August camping spot a few months ago. There is an area in the Cascades of northern Washington that the architect did his Master’s thesis on. Anyone who knows the architect well would know that he LOVES old mining sites. And I love ghost towns. And often, they go together, so it’s worked out well.

He’s been telling me about Monte Cristo for about 7 years now, and finally I got to see for myself.

There isn’t a lot left at the townsite – most of the buildings are from the 50s when there was a resurgence of interest in the area. There is only one building standing from the town’s heydey in the early 20th century.

But it is beautiful.

Friday – we drove all day, stopped in Seattle for coffee with a friend (yay) and then headed out. We parked about 4 miles from our campground & started backpacking. It was grey and misty and pretty.

It got dark quickly, and the architect started looking for a campground he knew existed on the way. Finally, we had to give up & make camp so that we weren’t in the dark.

I slept so well that night – crawled into my sleeping bag at about 9:30 & slept until 9 the next morning. Guess I was tired!

Saturday morning, we packed up & hiked the remaining 1.5 miles to the campsite. About 50 feet past our sleeping spot, we passed the campground we’d been trying for the night before!

After arriving at the Monte Cristo campground, we set up camp, and then headed to the town site & then for a hike.

Rusty Wheel - Monte Cristo townsite
Rusty Wheel - Monte Cristo townsite

We did this crazy-ass hike up to a place called glacier basin. I was a little worried about my torn groin, but after about an hour, I didn’t even feel it anymore.

Glacier Basin
Glacier Basin

When I say crazy hike, I mean pretty crazy. There was a lot of rock scrambles & some bouldering. In two places, it was so crazy that there were ropes (and some people actually BACKPACKED up & down this section…..glad it wasn’t me!)

We stopped & just enjoyed the view a few times – although the architect was struck by how much the glaciers had receded in the eight years since he’d been before – there were only a few small ones left.

After the hike to & from Glacier Basin, we were soaked! There was so much new growth, now that the snow doesn’t cover everything for as long.

Unnamed falls - I suggested renaming to Amy Falls Down
Unnamed falls - I suggested renaming to "Amy Falls Down"

Once we got back to the townsite, I wandered around with the map created by the Monte Cristo Preservation Association and tried to piece the town back together.

The sun started to break through the mist just as the day was winding down. We went and had our dinner, and then went out for another small hike. There had been so many landslides in the past decade – a result of the glaciers letting go of large rocks that then wipe out bridges, and roads – so we kept singing Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova.” The architect always sings, “someday you will find me, carpeting the landslide” so that was a never-ending source of entertainment, of course!

On our evening hike, I spotted this:

So we were extra careful to hang our food that night -and warned our fellow campers that we might not be alone.

It rained Saturday night – but we were well-protected by our tent & the trees.

Sunday morning dawned foggy – it felt like we were caught in a fairy story. But by the time we were ready to hike out, the fog had burned off, and we had our only sunny day. I kept saying, “I guess you weren’t lying about the presence of the mountains!”

The backpack out was more challenging. My groin really started to complain. Apparently bouldering is good, but carrying an extra 30 lbs on the back = not good.

One of the places a bridge was washed out.
One of the places a bridge was washed out.

We didn’t make it back in time to get to Lake Stevens to see these guys finish their 70.3, which was a bummer, but even with the fact that my groin muscle is STILL angry, I wouldn’t trade this trip for anything in the world.

It was a much needed break for both of us – and we’ve pledged to make this an annual trip. It was great to spend time in a place that meant so much to the architect, and I know he enjoyed sharing it with me. And we really got a chance to just be together – something that hasn’t happened in too long, what with unemployement/money woes.

Best weekend ever.


  1. Jen

    Oh wow, absolutely beautiful!! What a gorgeous area. I must go! I also love ghost towns and the wilderness. Haven’t done much backpacking/hiking the past few years for the same reason. Same with winter sports, such a shame! Do you snowboard? Anyway, good on ya for getting out there and it looks like it was totally worth it. No worries on not seeing the race finish! Have a great week. πŸ™‚

    1. I have never been much of a winter sport gal since the ‘ski patrol incident’ of ’91. (I have no idea what year, really – I was in jr. high.) BUT – I have vowed to try cross-country skiing this year. And I am always up for a trip to winter to sit in the lodge & knit while others play outside πŸ™‚

      It was a great trip – and there are so many awesome hikes from the area – so you could base camp at Monte Cristo, and then do a number of day hikes to various gorgeousness! I really had forgotten how much I loved the hiking/camping.

  2. Alisa

    Wow, beautiful!

    I always get nervous about hiking when there is snow around after the “getting lost in the snow in Montana, crazy lady with a 57 Revolver incident of 1994.” A story for another time.

    Absolutely gorgeous pictures, you both look so at home in the outdoors.

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